NCIS Season 17 Episode 16 Review: Ephemera

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This episode was just what the doctor ordered. Literally.

Ducky was back for the first time in way too long on NCIS Season 17 Episode 16.

Why not, since the case involved mystery and history, and helping out the team that he loves?

Into the Story -- Tall - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

It was hard not to feel for Art, who didn't have anything to live for, other than his dog, and he even made arrangements for his pet to be looked after.

He was dying from a particularly nasty cancer. He lost the love of his life nearly 50 years ago. He even went out to his and Annie's song, "Precious and Few."

Looking Into the Past - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

And Art was a good guy trying to do a genuinely good thing for a place he loved, the Navy Museum.

Like Torres, I hadn't heard of it. It sure looks interesting, however.

Unfortunately, since Marie from the museum had no idea how this volunteering veteran could have acquired such a valuable coin, she couldn't just sell it, as desperately as the museum needed the proceeds.

So Gibbs and company found themselves with an intriguingly different type of mystery to solve. So who better to call than Ducky?

Now I admit that I miss Ducky. I can understand if David McCallum at 86 wanted to cut back on his workload.

Department Historian  - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

But, while Jimmy is an enjoyable, quirky second banana, he's not Ducky.

Granted, Kasie isn't Abby either. But she's showcased her own distinctive style, so I don't miss Abby as much.

Jimmy's still doing the same shtick he did when Ducky was there. Only he's more tired doing it.

Too often Jimmy is what he was in the early scene when he was passing out notes and hugs from Tony Sr., just a lovable goofball. 

Ducky was eccentric. Jimmy is too often silly.

Digging Through Papers - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

Yes, Jimmy has developed over the years. But he's just not taken all that seriously by the team.

Maybe he needs his assistant so that we can see Jimmy as a veteran M.E.

It's not Jimmy's fault. Ducky's just a hard act to follow.

Art's death was a perfect situation for Ducky. He got to be a historian, a mystery solver, and the team therapist.

If you're going to have Ducky visit, make it count.

Historical Research - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

What better way to learn about someone than by studying the ephemera, the mementos, of his life?

Sensing his squad needed a challenge, Ducky encouraged them to immerse themselves in Art's world.

Using the cast to portray the people in Art's life was an effective method to tell his story while delving into how the coin came to be in his possession.

After far too much will-they-or-won't-they, we finally got to see what Nick and Ellie look like as a loving couple, although of course, they weren't, well, Nick and Ellie.

Baby steps, I guess.

Tense Situation - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

Sure, everyone is afraid that the Moonlighting curse might strike if a couple such as Torres and Bishop finally join together.

But playing with the audience's wishes for too long can be just as bad.

Enough already. Deeks and Kensi became a couple on NCIS: Los Angeles and it hardly ruined their relationship. They're being paired up on the job is questionable, sure, but that's a matter for another series.

Seeing Mark Harmon with a comb-over was a hoot.

Actually, after 17 years, picturing Harmon as anyone other than Gibbs is hard to do.

Going Back - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

So, if you're going to end up typecast, make sure you get paid well.

McGee, Jimmy, and Kasie played smaller but still fun roles in the flashbacks as well.

Everyone fell for Art to the point that no one believed he could be either a thief or a killer, evidence be damned.

That still left the who and the how to be solved. Only Gibbs gets to go from his gut.

Jimmy got to show off his medical skills when he diagnosed, then proved, that Annie had been poisoned.

Finding Help - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

From then on, it was a simple question of motive. Who wanted Annie dead?

Not Art, who was half a world away anyhow. Not her doting father. 

But the passed-over brother Stewart, who benefitted from Annie's death and who was now sniffing around after the coin, was a prime suspect.

(Just don't say "prime suspect" around Mario Bello, who starred in the short-lived 2011 U.S. version of the British hit of that name. Not everything translates well. Then again, not everyone is Helen Mirren either.)

Outside Assistance - NCIS Season 17 Episode 16

You have to love a suspect that can be compelled through his allergies to give a DNA sample. What a clever approach that was.

The crowning touch came when Jack tracked down that grand old dame, Aunt Bertha, who filled in all the holes in the story, such as how Art came to possess both the coin and Annie's letters to him. Bertha was their go-between, even in death.

So finally Art can rest in peace, as his favorite museum exhibit has been saved and his lover's killer, who he didn't even know about, has been caught. Call it a just reward for a good life lived.

To find favorite Ducky moments, watch NCIS online.

Were you happy to see Ducky back, if only for an episode?

How did you like the cast playing other characters in flashbacks?

Did you suspect Art even for a second?

Comment below.

Ephemera Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (51 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCIS Season 17 Episode 16 Quotes

Clearly [Arturo] kept all of this for a reason.


So warm.

Palmer [to Gibbs]
  • Permalink: So warm.
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